A documentary about Native Americans who staged a sit-in on Alcatraz in the '60s, Alcatraz is Not an Island makes its local premiere tonight at 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. Here's our review of the film.
Alcatraz Is Not an Island
(U.S., 2001) In 1969, a group of Native Americans aspiring to attain “a positive recognition” staged a sit-in on Alcatraz, which they maintained they could legitimately claim because of a provision that allows Native Americans to purchase unused federal property (at that time, the island’s prison was shut down). This documentary retraces the events that led up to the occupation of the island. Led by Mohawk Richard Oakes, a large group of Native Americans eventually take up residence. But after Oakes’ daughter falls onto a concrete slab and eventually dies, the organizers begin to reevaluate their position. And when the government sends in the feds, things get really ugly. The film doesn’t drift from straightforward storytelling, but it doesn’t need to either. It does an effective job of revisiting an activist event that culminated with a significant march on Washington D.C. ***